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The Blues Foundation's 1999 "Keeping the Blues Alive Award"|
Minnesota Blues Hall of Fame 2009 "Supportive of the Blues"
(Yellow Dog Records, 2005)
Review Date: Oct 2009
by Norman Darwen
Singer and guitarist Mary Flower is described on the internet as a “premier fingerstyle acoustic guitar player in Portland, Oregon” – which is true but does not really prepare the listener for the music on this excellent and varied CD. For a start, it was recorded in New Orleans, as a listen to virtually any track will reveal to the experienced listener – the depression-era standard ‘Brother, Can You Spare A Dime?’ features some classic vintage Crescent City jazz playing, as do one or two other numbers, but on most songs the influence is much more subtle. Mary’s comments on the sleeve hint at a relaxed atmosphere in the recording studio, with the leader playing her customary fine, very accomplished Piedmont-inflected guitar style (try ‘Hudson River Rag’, which also features guitar wizard Woody Mann), whilst others dropped in, listened and fitted in around it. Certainly the contributions from the likes of pianists Henry Butler and Jon Cleary, clarinettist Dr. Michael White and Kirk Joseph, sousaphone player with The Dirty Dozen Brass Band, complement Mary’s sometimes exquisite guitar work and strong, if sometimes sly, singing in a way that probably couldn’t have been achieved anywhere else. If you are going to record in Louisiana, I guess it helps that Doctor John and his band are recording across the hall!
(Hindsight provides an added poignancy to this recording in that Hurricane Katrina devastated the city in between the recording and release of this CD.)
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